The Council’s “Tech…. in the Time of Corona” Series – Part 2

April 20th, 2020

Peter ("the Guru") Hernandez

General Manager - Technology

Australian Physiotherapy Council


FIVE weeks and counting… How are you all hanging in there?

And now with the obligatory formalities over (I‘m an introvert after all)… back to my pet subject… Tech.

Corona-verse certainly isn’t for the faint hearted, but technology is definitely doing its bit to assuage social isolation as well as closing the gap between our various “home offices”.

But make no mistake, the tech that keeps organisations afloat at this time takes a gargantuan effort to organise and set up.  Many companies have been forced to into Working From Home (WFH) with no real strategy.  For them, the game of remote catch up has been a fraught one.  And for others, who were forced into working from home with an untested and/or irrelevant strategy, they too have suffered.

The only organisations that have enjoyed a smooth transition into the wonderful world of WFH are those that had relevant, up-to-date and tested strategy. The Council was blessed enough to fall into that category.

So why were we prepared? Did we have a sixth sense that predicted that we’d all fall victim to a 100-year event like a global pandemic?  You may be stunned that the answer to all the above is no.

You see, when I became the Council’s Guru, I had two looming challenges I had to get my head around:

  1. The Council was moving to new premises; and
  2. The Council was wholly committed to doing everything in its power to reduce the amount of technology-related downtime

After much analysis, using the cloud to deliver key functions made perfect sense for the Council.  These included introducing cloud-based email as well as cloud-based phone systems.  Yes, it is far more cost-effective to use a subscription model in the cloud, than to build bespoke, highly available systems on premise. But little did we know then, that employing technologies with specific characteristics to enhance the user experience and provide high availability on a “budget”, was fortuitously our first step in being COVID-ready for isolation.

Once we moved into our new offices, our Village Chief (for whom culture is key) invited us to all dream big.  The only caveat was that it had to: (a) be for the ultimate betterment of the Council and our stakeholders (“customer obsession” always comes first); (b) increase efficiency; and (c) enhance our respective and collective wellbeing.  One such dream was having the flexibility to work remotely from home.  Whether it was because of commuting times or kids or to let the plumber in, or all of the above – it was something for which we all yearned.  And just like that, our Village CEO Anton, granted our wish.

But anybody who knows anything about anything knows, that to transform a workforce into a truly mobile one, requires three key ingredients:

  • Portable computers: ideal devices for this are lightweight laptops
  • Access to corporate data and applications would need to be possible from anywhere, not just from the office; and
  • Appropriate internet connections

Obviously, there were minor tweaks relating to internet access and VPN settings. But our testing bench was the soon to become entrenched Wednesday weekly tradition of working from home.  So when COVID isolation befell us, we were genuinely armed.

What was borne from our CEO’s strong appetite for building an environment predicated on trust and the holistic wellbeing of everyone, ultimately became one of the strongest determinants of the Council’s ultimate thri-vival in Corona-verse.

Yes, we made decisions to support strong technologies that were WFH enablers and we are an unashamedly nimble and agile organisation.  Real time adaptability is without doubt a hallmark of the Council.  But it was the foresight into fostering the best culture possible that actually supported the Council most during this time.  We selected what would comprehensively assist us best and it’s that vision that’s paid the greatest dividends during these challenging times.

So now what? 

Well the truth is we don’t know and anyone who suggests otherwise is a) a liar; b) delusional; or c) a recently appointed home-schooling parent who’s all but lost the will to live.  But if Covid has taught us anything, it’s to not be wedded to any particular way of doing business, because it can and does change in a flash.  The only way for organisations to make it out of Corona-verse is to embrace an elastic mindset and be prepared for the new global era of: business as unusual.  Are you ready?

#businessasunusual; #areyouready;  #techequalsbridge;  #lifedisrupted;  #covid19;    #letssticktogetherremotely; #techtotherescue





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